31 July 2012

"Hanukah in July"

13 Menachem Av 5772

Excerpt from Eytan Kobre's column in the 23 Sivan 5772 issue of Mishpachah magazine:

...Chanukah will be arriving in mid-summer.

The great celebration of Torah known as the Siyum HaShas of Daf HaYomi will take place, b'ezrat Hashem, on August 1, at the very same time that the quintessential manifestation of Yavan, the Olympic Games, reach their midpoint in London. It's hard to imagine a clearer, better-timed contrast than this between the radically divergent worldviews of Yerushalayim and Athens, or a more bracing expression than this of an epic kulturkampf that first flared two millenia ago, yet continues in full strength to this day.

The Olympic Closing Ceremonies, estimated to be watched by 4 billion people across the planet, are scheduled to take place on 12 August 2012 or 24 Menachem Av 5772.

Now read this from the Chabad.org Jewish Calendar:

[On 24 Av] "The Hasmoneans reinstated the rule of Jewish civil law, replacing Hellenist secular law, and declared this day a holiday."


India in the Dark

12 Menachem Av 5772

I keep wondering if these ongoing incidences and reports of major electrical outages across the world are a warning of what's to come. I've heard reference to Jewish sources which describe a future period when the entire world will be engulfed by fifteen days of darkness. (Anyone with the actual source for this is invited to post it in the comments section.)


NEW DELHI (AP) -- India's energy crisis cascaded over half the country Tuesday when three of its regional grids collapsed, leaving 620 million people without government-supplied electricity in one of the world's biggest-ever blackouts.

Hundreds of trains stalled across the country and traffic lights went out, causing widespread traffic jams in New Delhi. Electric crematoria stopped operating, some with bodies half burnt, power officials said. Emergency workers rushed generators to coal mines to rescue miners trapped underground.

The massive failure - a day after a similar, but smaller power failure - has raised serious concerns about India's outdated infrastructure and the government's inability to meet its huge appetite for energy as the country aspires to become a regional economic superpower.

Looking Forward to TU b'Av

12 Menachem Av 5772

The Clarification of Evil from Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg of Gal Einai Institute (His writings can be found at inner.org)

The Inner Meaning of Tu B'Av

Our Sages say that there were no days happier than the 15th of the Hebrew month of Av, known as Tu B'av, and Yom Kippur. On Tu B'Av the maidens of Israel would dance in the vineyards while their potential bridegrooms would look on and choose a mate from among the dancing maidens. Thus, Tu B'Av is the day when marriages were made. This is the greatest joy in the world, as it leads to the birth of children, which ultimately leads to the birth of the Mashiach.

Tu B'Av Clarifies Tish'a B'Av

According to our Sages, the Mashiach is born on the 9th of Av. This is the day of national mourning over the destruction of the two Temples. The initial tragedy of Tish'a B'Av (the 9th of Av) took place when the spies returned to the Israelites in the desert with a negative report about the Land of Israel. The Israelites accepted their evil words and cried. As their sorrow was actually unfounded, God decreed that the Jewish People would have good reason to cry on this night. The sin of accepting the evil report on the Land of Israel is the source for the destruction of the Temples and all the subsequent sorrows of exile related to Tish'a B'Av.

For the next 40 years, it was decreed on the generation of the desert to die. Every Tish'a B'Av eve, they would sleep in a collective grave. Upon waking in the morning, 1/40th of the people would be dead. On the 40th year, nobody died. The Israelites, thinking that they had possibly miscalculated the 9th of Av, continued to sleep in the collective grave until the full moon on the 15th of Av, when the 9th of Av had clearly passed. Tu B'Av then became a day of celebration. Although the decree had objectively ended on the 9th of Av, this only became subjectively revealed on the 15th of Av.

Clarification of Good from Bad

When Adam and Eve prematurely ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they created a mixture of good and evil in reality. Ever since, it has been upon their descendants to clarify the good from the evil. When this clarification process is finished, the Mashiach may be born.

Pregnancy is a process of clarification, in which the living fetus is clarified from the impure matter in the womb. Our work of clarification to bring the Mashiach is also similar to pregnancy. Although the Mashiach is ready to be born on the 9th of Av, it is not until the 15th of Av that this is subjectively clear. Thus the 15th of Av is the end of our subjective clarification of the Mashiach.

The Inner Meaning of the Month of Av

According to Sefer Yetzirah, every month has a corresponding Hebrew letter, tribe and sense. The letter that corresponds to the month of Av is tet. The corresponding tribe is Shimon and the corresponding sense is the sense of hearing.

Hearing is the ability of the soul to integrate or absorb knowledge. The sin of hearing the evil report of the spies is the sin of Av. The positive rectification of hearing is the integration of spiritually good things.

The Secret of Tet

The letter tet is in the form of the womb. Tet, whose value is 9, also alludes to the 9 months of pregnancy that take place in the womb. At the end of the clarification of the process of pregnancy, the birth occurs. Spiritually, this takes place on Tu B'Av.

In Job it is written: "Who is able to extract pure from impure? Only God."

God, Who is essentially pure, can take the pure from the impure. This is the secret of the birth of Abraham, who was pure, from the impure Terach, his father.

The Good Hidden Within the Evil

There are 3 basic words in Hebrew that begin with tet:

Tov ("good") -- numerical value 17

Tahor ("pure") -- numerical value 220

Tameh ("impure") -- numerical value 50

Pure and impure are opposites. When added together, their numerical values equal 270, which is the value of ra, ("evil"). When pure and impure are mixed together, it creates evil. We know however, that the initial word that begins with tet is Tov. Although the pure may be well-hidden within the evil, the actual ratio of pure to impure is 220:50, as above. Our purpose is to take this mixture of pure and impure, which may seem to be completely evil, to identify the pure and extract it from the impure. This leaves the evil as an empty shell, without the vitality of the pure to give it life force.

Be Essentially Good

We learn in Chassidut that it is not enough to be correct, in which one measures himself against a standard. A person must be essentially good. This essential goodness, a gift of our Divine, Godly soul, is the tool that allows us to clarify good from evil. The 15th of Av is the end of this clarification process. We can then open our eyes and see the Mashiach born.

27 July 2012

It won't be long now

8 Menachem Av 5772

Tonight is the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. For Jews the world over it will be both
Tisha b'Av, our national day of mourning, and Shabbat, a day when mourning is forbidden. Therefore, the traditional fast and mourning rituals will be delayed until the following day.

For us, it's not a time for playing games; for acting like a gentile. That's not our world. I pray that all Jews everywhere will take stock of where they are and what they are doing and simply be a Jew. It's very dangerous for a Jew to try be anything else.

For months, the internet has been full of rumors and warnings about a potential terrorist attack on these Olympic games. The year 2012 is itself the subject of rumor and dread. Many are experiencing a sense of impending doom. For the Jewish people, this time of the year always carries a sense of impending doom. Tisha b'Av is the original doomsday - a day on which terrible tragedies have happened to us.

However, the Hebrew prophets foretold that a day would come when Tisha b'Av would become a joyous holiday; a day when Jewish fortunes would change forever and then, it would be the nations' turn for Divine judgment.

The following comes from one of the seven haftarot of consolation which are read following Tisha b'Av:

(Yeshayahu 51:17, 22-23) "Awaken, awaken, arise, Jerusalem, for you have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of His wrath; the dregs of the cup of weakness you have drained. ...So said your Master, the Lord, and your God Who shall judge His people, 'Behold, I took from you the cup of weakness; the dregs of the cup of My wrath-you shall no longer continue to drink it. And I will place it into the hand of those who cause you to wander, who said to your soul, "Bend down and let us cross," and you made your body like the earth and like the street for those who cross.' "

The Prophet Jeremiah follows suit:

(Yirmiyahu 25:15-17;28-29) "For so said the Lord God of Israel to me; Take this cup of the wine of fury from My hand, and you shall give it to all the nations to whom I send you, to drink. And they shall drink and reel to and fro and be like madmen because of the sword that I am sending among them. And I took the cup from the hand of the Lord, and I gave it to all the nations to whom the Lord had sent me, to drink. ...And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, that you shall say to them: So said the Lord of Hosts: You shall surely drink. For behold, with the city upon which My name is called, I commence to bring evil, and shall you be cleared? You shall not be cleared, for I call a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, says the Lord of Hosts.

If Hashem did not even spare His own House and children, how do the nations have any hope of escape from judgment?

The official song of the London 2012 Olympic Games is called "Survival" and it contains some very unusual and disturbing lyrics. Oddly enough, it is performed by a group called Muse. (The Muses were Greek goddesses and the daughters of Zeus, the god most revered at the Olympic games. Even the word "Olympics" refers to Mt Olympus, the home of Zeus on earth.)

Here are the lyrics:

Race, life is race
And I am gonna win
Yes, I am gonna win
I'll light the fuse
And I'll never lose
And I choose to survive
Whatever it takes
You won't pull ahead
I'll keep up the pace
And I will reveal my strength to the whole human race
Yes, I am prepared to stay alive
I won't forgive
Vengeance is mine
And I won't give in because I choose to thrive

And I am going to win

Race, it's a race
And I'm gonna win, Yes I am gonna win
And I will light the fuse
And I'll never lose
And I choose to survive
Whatever it takes
You won't pull ahead
Because I'll keep up the pace
And I will reveal my strength to the whole human race
Yes I am going to win.

Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!
Win! Win! Win! Win!

"Religion at 2012 Olympics..."

8 Menachem Av 5772

...From Ancient Greece To London

A 600-foot footrace was the only athletic event at the first Olympics, a festival held in 776 B.C. and dedicated to Zeus, the chief Greek god.

For the next millennium, Greeks gathered every four years in Olympia to honor Zeus through sports, sacrifices and hymns. The five-day festival brought the Greek world together in devotion to one deity.

What began in ancient Greece as a festival to honor a single god, Zeus, has now become an almost Olympian task, as organizers of the games navigate dozens of sacred fasts, religious rituals and holy days.

The London Olympics will try to accommodate religious athletes with 193 chaplains, a prayer room in every venue and a multifaith center in the Olympic Village.

Athletes at the ancient Olympics believed their training honored the gods, and victory was a sign of favor from a deity. As contests like wrestling, boxing, and horse racing were added to the Olympic roster, they supplemented devotional sacrifices, hymns, and ceremonies.

"The idea was that you were training to please Zeus. But part of the festival would be to visit the temple, visit the cult statues, making offerings, celebrating and seeing your family," said David Gilman Romano, a professor of Greek archaeology at the University of Arizona.

The combination of Greek sport and worship led the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, to ban the Olympics in 393 A.D.

The Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin revived the Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 after excavations at Olympia renewed public interest in the athletics and pageantry of the Olympics.

Though not sectarian, the modern games began to take on their own quasi-religious rituals.

Coubertin borrowed ceremonies, hymns, and rituals from the ancient festival to shape a transcendent "Olympism," uniting all athletes. Some scholars today refer to his creation as a "civil religion."

"The civil religion was not so much the worship or devotion to the state, as it is often now understood," explained Joseph Price, a professor of religion at Whittier College in California who researches sport and religion. Devotion "was to the civitas, the human group that transcended a particular religion."

Over the years, the International Olympic Committee and host states introduced "new" symbols to bolster Olympism, said Stephen Mosher, professor of sport management and media at Ithaca College in New York.

Still, the modern games have touches from the ancient past.

Gold medals since 1928 have been imprinted with the image of Nike, goddess of victory. And though the torch relay existed in antiquity, it was not part of the ancient Olympics. "It was'invented' by the Nazis for the 1936 Berlin Games in an obvious attempt to connect the modern German state with the ancient Greek state," Mosher said....

I knew there was something very unnerving about seeing a Chareidi Jew carrying the Olympic torch.

A history of the Olympics

8 Menachem Av 5772

(Arutz Sheva) Of Israel’s 37 delegates to the Olympics, roughly half will not participate in the opening festivities. Friday evening, in addition to being the start of Shabbat, is also the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, the day of national Jewish mourning for the Temple, although fasting and mourning are pushed off this year until after the Sabbath.


Origin and History of the Olympic Games

From Grolier Online’s New Book of Knowledge
The Rise of the Games

The Olympic Games originated long ago in ancient Greece. Exactly when the Games were first held and what circumstances led to their creation is uncertain. We do know, however, that the Games were a direct outgrowth of the values and beliefs of Greek society. The Greeks idealized physical fitness and mental discipline, and they believed that excellence in those areas honored Zeus, the greatest of all their gods.


A History of the Olympic Games

The story of the Olympics is a complex narrative full of paradox and contradiction. It not only tells the story of the world’s most gifted athletes as symbols of human power and beauty, but it also reveals political conflict and personal squabbles. Modern-day Olympics founder Pierre de Coubertin saw them as a manifestation of the nineteenth-century liberalism of Thomas Jefferson and John Stuart Mill wherein individual liberty was the highest good (Guttman 2002). Realizing that religion often led to bloodshed, he imagined the Olympics as a type of secular faith based on good sportsmanship and fair play. While the Games have attempted to be a meeting place of peace and equality, in reality they have consistently been a site where idealism clashes with the realism of politics and professionalism (Henry 1984).

Ancient Games

Although the Olympic Games first were recorded in Greece in 776 B.C., archaeologists have traced evidence of the Games as a pagan religious and fertility festival back into the second millennium before Christ (Kindersley 2004). The Greeks considered the Games to be of enormous political, religious, and social significance and held that the original Olympic flame was lit from the rays of the sun itself. They even calculated their calendar according to the Olympic cycle,....

Though the Games continued during the Roman period, they were diluted by claims of bribery, ... Emperor Theodosius banned pagan religions and adopted Christianity as the faith of the Roman Empire. While Christian zeal may have ended the Games, they were kept alive by the works of poets such as Pindar. During the Middle Ages, athletic endeavors held little significance, but there were several sporadic attempts during the Renaissance to revived the Games (Kindersly 2004). It wasn’t until Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937) enthusiastically argued for the revival of the Olympics at the fifth anniversary of the Union des Societes Francaises de Sports Athletiques (USFSFSA) in 1894 that the Games would be taken seriously (Kanin 1982).

Coubertin and the Beginning of Modern Games

...Coubertin was motivated by two seemingly contradictory motives. Fiercely nationalistic, Coubertin saw the Olympics both as a way of re-establishing the glory of France while at the same time establishing a more peaceful and harmonious world (Guttman 2002).

...Coubertin suggested to Demetrios Vikelas, a prominent Greek man of letters and the first IOC president, that the first Olympic Games of the modern era be held in Athens. While the Greeks were less than enthusiastic about this unsolicited honor, the first games were inaugurated there in 1896. The most familiar symbols such as the torch, flag, rings, and the motto “Citius, Altius, Fortiu” were still to come.

Growing Pains and Increasing Success: 1900-1912

The Games that followed immediately after Greek 1896 Olympics were marred by poor publicity, rumors of cheating, poor attendance, and ugly nationalism. During the Paris Games in 1900, Americans noted the Frenchman finished the marathon “surprisingly fresh” and clean, despite the mud-drenched track. Athlete accommodations were so poor that German athletes assumed their French hosts had meant to deliberately insult them. And due to the World Exhibition being held at the same time as the Games, many athletes were confused whether they really participated in the Olympics at all. The 1904 American Games in Missouri did not do much better as they were overshadowed by the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition. Participant attendance was drastically low because European athletes were reluctant to travel to what they imaged as a wilderness settlement inhabited by “hostile people who ate buffalo meat.” In addition, to the horror of more sophisticated members of the IOC, American organizers set aside two days for “Anthropological Days,” a “scientific experiment” wherein a variety of “savages” such as Pygmies, Patagonians, Filipinos, and Native Americans competed in mud slinging contests and greased pole climbing. Most Olympic historians regard this as a shameful event that almost killed the Olympic movement. It was, however, the first time that gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded. Not surprisingly, most gold medals were awarded to the Americans (Guttman 2002)....

The Most Controversial Games and WWII: 1936-1944

The first televised Olympics were the 1936 Summer Games, which were actually awarded to Berlin before Hitler came into power. Once in control of the country, Hitler realized the opportunity for Germany to demonstrate its vitality and organizational expertise and so he donated 20,000,000 Reichmarks to the IOC (Kindersley 2004). The star of these Games was African-American track and field athlete Jesse Owens who wowed the German crowds. Ironically, though German newspapers highlighted positive photos of Owens’s achievements, the most liberal of American southern journals, the Atlanta Constitution, showed no shots of Owen. The Olympic torch relay was started during these Games as a way to connect countries of the world to Berlin. Especially in light of Riefenstahl’s film Olympia, which actually set the standard for filming athletic events, scholars still contemplate whether the Berlin Games were an instance of Nazi propaganda or a triumph of Olympianism (Guttman 2002). WWII, however brought a 12-year cancellation of the games.

Politics and Organizational Strains: 1948-1992
...When the games resumed in 1948, the IOC struggled with balancing strong anti-communist sentiment with their public commitment to the universality ideal of Olympianism, and the Games were often boycotted by at least one country (including America's boycott of the Moscow Summer Games in 1980). ...nothing would prepare the world for the most horrific event in Olympic history—the murder of 11 Israeli athletes and officials by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Games in Munich (Kindersley 2004).

An Era of (Relatively) Good Feelings: 1992-2004
The less-than-celebratory mood that had draped over the Games seemed to change in 1992 in Barcelona when, for the first time in many years, no country boycotted the Olympics, Germany competed as a unified country, and South Africa rejoined after eliminating apartheid....

...it has taken nearly a century for some of the internal contradictions of the Olympics to be understood and for other problems like commercialism and drug abuse to arise. Though none of the Courbetin’s values, explicit or implicit, have been perfectly realized, the Olympics provide a venue for the world to meet to celebrate peace and beauty...whether or not the world takes advantage of that offering.

Eichah - "1-2-3 Punch"

8 Menachem Av 5772

Rav Yehudah
wraps up his lesson with the following:

Rebbe Natan, of
Breslov points out that Moshe Rabeinu uses the word "Eichah" in Parshat Devarim at the beginning of the second aliyah [pasuk yud bet]. Ashkenazim even sing this verse to the tune of Megillat Eichah.

Chazal say, in Midrash Eichah, that three prophets used the expression "Eichah."

1) Moshe Rabeinu in Devarim when he began to teach the people about the problems in the judicial system. ("How can I alone carry your contentiousness, your burdens and your quarrels?")

2) Yeshayahu in the haftarah of Parshat Devarim when he enumerates all the problems which angered G-d. ("How has she become a harlot?")

3) Yirmiyahu in Megillat Eichah when he began to describe the destruction.

All three use the same word. Rebbe Natan said that when we look and see that there are problems in the realm of the brit and modesty, the source can be found in problems with the judicial system. The first step is injustice and it leads to prostitution and immodesty which brings about destruction.

This pattern is expressed by the three usages of Eichah. First, Moshe Rabeinu describes problems in the judicial system and it is followed directly by Yeshayahu's reference in the haftarah to harlotry which will in turn be followed by Yirmiyahu's detailed description of the horrible destruction and exile.

Problems with same-sex relations, prostitution and immodesty begin with a corrupt judicial system and it ends in destruction. We see this also in the case of the Generation of the Flood as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The corruption of justice led to sexual sins which ended in complete and utter destruction of society.

Many rabbis, including Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, have recently made public calls to fight the courts on their corrupt rulings. The case against the Ulpana buildings is a case in point. And there are many, many others. And it's not just happening in Eretz Yisrael, but all over the world and it's bringing desolation to the land.

In America, where the courts have legalized same-sex unions, the land is being destroyed by flood and fire and drought.

26 July 2012

The sun is setting on the West

7 Menachem Av 5772

Melting asphalt, kinking rail tracks: Weather extremes buckle US infrastructure
'We've got the 'storm of the century' every year now,' says senior vice president at utility which took 8 days to recover from June 29 storm

From highways in Texas to nuclear power plants in Illinois, the concrete, steel and sophisticated engineering that undergird the nation’s infrastructure are being taxed to worrisome degrees by heat, drought and vicious storms.

On a single day this month here, a US Airways regional jet became stuck in asphalt that had softened in 100-degree temperatures, and a subway train derailed after the heat stretched the track so far that it kinked — inserting a sharp angle into a stretch that was supposed to be straight. In East Texas, heat and drought have had a startling effect on the clay-rich soils under highways, which “just shrink like crazy,” leading to “horrendous cracking,” said Tom Scullion, senior research engineer with the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University. In Northeastern and Midwestern states, he said, unusually high heat is causing highway sections to expand beyond their design limits, press against each other and “pop up,” creating jarring and even hazardous speed bumps.

Excessive warmth and dryness are threatening other parts of the grid as well. In the Chicago area, a twin-unit nuclear plant had to get special permission to keep operating this month because the pond it uses for cooling water rose to 102 degrees; its license to operate allows it to go only to 100. According to the Midwest Independent System Operator, the grid operator for the region, a different power plant had had to shut because the body of water from which it draws its cooling water had dropped so low that the intake pipe became high and dry; another had to cut back generation because cooling water was too warm.

The frequency of extreme weather is up over the past few years, and people who deal with infrastructure expect that to continue. Leading climate models suggest that weather-sensitive parts of the infrastructure will be seeing many more extreme episodes, along with shifts in weather patterns and rising maximum (and minimum) temperatures.

“We’ve got the ‘storm of the century’ every year now,” said Bill Gausman, a senior vice president and a 38-year veteran at the Potomac Electric Power Company, which took eight days to recover from the June 29 “derecho” storm that raced from the Midwest to the Eastern Seaboard and knocked out power for 4.3 million people in 10 states and the District of Columbia....

25 July 2012

Recounting the Horrors of Tisha b'Av

6 Menachem Av 5772

Counting from Tishrei, Av is the eleventh month. The ninth day of this eleventh month has seen horror upon horror befall the Jewish people. So, you could say it's the 9/11 of the Jewish calendar - only multiplied by millions.

Here is a history of events which took place on Tisha b'Av courtesy of Ohr Somayach:

2448 (1312 bce)Spies return from 40 days in Israel with evil reports of the Land of Israel. Jewish people cry in despair, give up hope of entering the Land of Israel.

3340 (421 bce)Destruction of First Temple by the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezar. About 100,000 Jews killed during invasion. Exile of remaining tribes in southern kingdom to Babylon and Persia.

3830 (70 ce)
Destruction of Second Temple by Romans, under Titus. Over 2,500,000 Jews die as a result of war, famine and disease. Over 1,000,000 Jews exiled to all parts of the Roman Empire. Over 100,000 Jews sold as slaves by Romans. Jews killed and tortured in gladiatorial "games" and pagan celebrations.

3892 (132 ce)Bar Kochba revolt crushed. Betar destroyed - over 100,00 killed.

3893 (133 ce)Turnus Rufus ploughs site of Temple. Romans build pagan city of Aelia Capitolina on site of Jerusalem. [The myth of Palestine began here.]

4855 (1095 ce)
First Crusade declared by Pope Urban II. 10,000 Jews killed in first month of Crusade. Crusades bring death and destruction to thousands of Jews, totally obliterate many communities in Rhineland and France.

5050 (1290 ce)
Expulsion of Jews from England, accompanied by pogroms and confiscation of books and property.
5252 (1492 ce)Inquisition in Spain and Portugal culminates in the expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula. Families separated, many die by drowning, massive loss of property.

5674 (1914 ce)Britain and Russia declare war on Germany. First World War begins. First World War issues unresolved, ultimately causing Second World War and Holocaust. 75% of all Jews in war zones. Jews in armies of all sides - 120,000 Jewish casualties in armies. Over 400 pogroms immediately following war in Hungary, Ukraine, Poland and Russia.

5702 (1942 ce)Deportations from Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka concentration camp begin.

5749 (1989 ce)Iraq walks out of talks with Kuwait.

5754 (1994 ce)
The deadly bombing the building of the AMIA (the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina) which killed 86 people and wounded some 300 others.

[I would add]
5765 (2005 ce)
The forcible expulsion of the approx. 8500 Jews of Gush Katif and the destruction of all Jewish property there (including synagogues and graves) began.

And which was the defining event which gave this date its energy to bring more horror in its wake?

24 July 2012

They're digging their own graves

6 Menachem Av 5772

Israel’s security chiefs rally to disperse war clouds with Syria

...The chief of staff, like the defense ministry official, ...broke ranks with the muscle-flexing President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, by urging a large measure of restraint against Syria’s admitted possession of chemical weapons.

The two Israeli security chiefs answered the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s warning Monday - that Damascus would only use chemical weapons if faced with “external aggression” - by making it clear that Israel is not planning to attack Syria. Therefore, Bashar Assad has no cause to target Israel for any unconventional warfare attacks he may plan.

Amos Gilead dismissed as “not credible” the rebel Free Syrian Army’s Tuesday statement that the Damascus government has moved chemical weapons to airports on its borders, along with equipment for mixing chemical components. He also said emphatically: “Hizballah does not have Syrian chemical weapons at this time,” thereby laying the ground for Gen. Gantz’s assurance.

Both sought to cut through the war clouds gathering between Israel and Syria since July 20, when US Pentagon sources first disclosed that Syria’s chemical weapons had been moved out of storage.

Debkafile’s military sources strongly doubt that Gilead and Gantz will achieve their purpose - either in Damascus or at home. They have only generated the troubling impression of an Israeli leadership divided against itself by broadcasting mixed signals on the highly incendiary issue of the largest chemical arsenal in the world in the hands of one of its most ruthless despots.

...Rather than inspiring confidence and calm in the Israeli street, Gilead and Gantz sowed confusion and alarm -most of all by their assurance that Assad is in “full control” of his unconventional weapons arsenal and it has not yet passed into “negative hands.”.

...By flatly contradicting the statements of Israel’s prime minister and defense minister, the two security chiefs caused extreme damage to Israel’s credibility without serving any beneficial purpose. How will this be taken in Damascus and Tehran?

Only the sincere & serious should read further...

5 Menachem Av 5772

Rabbi Sholom Gold speaks on the real reasons for
Tisha b'Av and it's NOT sinat chinam or misplaced zealotry. If you only listen to ONE shiur about Tisha b'Av, THIS should be IT.

For download

Or immediate listening...

Do we really understand what we've lost?

5 Menachem Av 5772

"If the nations of the world had understood what the Holy Temple meant for them, they'd have surrounded it with guards."

Why We Mourn

By Naftali Silberberg

The fast of Tisha b'Av, the saddest date on the Jewish calendar, is the day which saw the destruction of both Holy Temples, as well as many other tragic events throughout our nation's tear-soaked galut (exile).

...Tisha b'Av is our national day of mourning when we pause to reflect on all the pogroms, crusades, inquisitions and holocausts which have dogged our nation for the past 2,000 years. Nonetheless it is specifically observed on the date when the Holy Temples were destroyed, and the Temples are the principal focus of this day's mourning. It is clear that our suffering is intimately associated with the absence of the Temple.

...Does the lack of a Holy Temple leave any of us feeling a gaping hole in our lives?

See the rest here.

A Clear Sign of Mashiach

5 Menachem Av 5772

The Erev Rav regime is self-destructing...

Did Mofaz Reveal Strategic Iran Secret?

"I expect a person who was Defense Minister to show the required responsibility and not do what he did. It is simply unacceptable. I do not remember this kind of lack of self restraint and inability to show self control in the past. But besides that, of course, it was Mofaz's decision to break up the unity government that led the entire state to this chaos we are in."

They won't survive this "imminent" war. When they go, Mashiach will come and he will begin to do everything that is hated by the West - everything that opposes their democratic and pluralistic (and depraved) "values." This is what will bring about the war of Gog uMagog. They will want to stop Mashiach's work, but they will not succeed.

Furthermore, it's very likely that many (or most, or all) of the so-called xian "friends" of Israel, believing our Mashiach to be the "anti-x," will be at the forefront of opposition against him.

Words of Wisdom from Rav Yehuda

5 Menachem Av 5772

Rav Yehudah, our blog rav, has uncovered some pearls in his learning and wants to pass the treasure along to you. I can't do it justice, but I will try to remember the high points.

1) According to sources, the main problem of the final generation before Mashiach will be the same as that which plagued Sodom, along with immodesty which goes along with the Sodomite sin.

In the sefer Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh , the author relates the consequences of this sin to its punishment - mida k'neged mida." They do not reproduce (in accordance with the first commandment to be fruitful and multiply) so neither will the earth produce for them. Hence, we see the floods and droughts and fires across the world which are destroying all the produce of the earth.

2) According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, we read about Aharon HaCohen's passing again in Parshat Masei because this parsha is always read in proximity to Rosh Chodesh Av, the actual time of Aharon HaCohen's yahrtzeit. And it's recounted in conjunction with the attack from the Canaanites to teach us that it is not our armies which protect us, but the tzadikim among us. As soon as Aharon had died, the Canaanites felt free to attack. And by the same token, within hours of losing Rav Eliashiv, ztz"l, Jews were attacked and killed in Bulgaria.

Again - why was the Temple destroyed?

5 Menachem Av 5772

Every year at this time, the Erev Rav rabbis - and those poor Jewish souls who have been duped by them - pull out the "baseless hatred" stick with which to beat Bnei Yisrael. Baseless hatred exists, for sure, but not in the way it is usually explained to us.

It's time to get this story straight, once and for all!


Revisiting Kamtza Bar Kamtza - why was the Temple really destroyed
by Yekutiel Guzofsky

If you ask the average Jew, “What was the cause of the destruction of the Second Temple?”, he’ll likely answer based on the popular interpretation of the story of Kamtza/Bar Kamtza in Tractate Gittin 55b, that the destruction was brought upon us due to internal strife – and, in particular, a host who offended Bar Kamtza when he expelled Bar Kamtza from his banquet. In an article written in the Bnei Haneviim Journal of Av 5757, Rav David Cohen shatters this myth and the misinterpretation of the Aggadic story brought down in the Talmud.

As the story unfolds, our anonymous host requested of his servant to invite his friend Kamtza to his party. The servant mistakenly invited Bar Kamtza instead of Kamtza. When the host realized that Bar Kamtza, his enemy, was sitting at the banquet, he ordered him to leave. Bar Kamtza pleaded to be given the opportunity to stay, offering to pay for his meal, and even for the entire banquet; but the Host remained steadfast and forcibly removed him. Bar Kamtza said: “since the Rabbis did not protest, this is proof that they agree with what happened. I will go and become an informant to the authorities.” (There are sources that indicate that Bar Kamtza was already a known informant, and that this is why the Rabbis did not come to his defense and also why he was not invited to the banquet, see Chatam Sofer on Gittin, Maharal in Netzach Yisrael Chapter 5).

Without going into the full story, Bar Kamtza conspired to incite the Romans against the Jews and bring about the destruction of the Second Temple. During the deliberations, the Rabbis considered the possibility of killing Bar Kamtza before he could complete his evil plot. Rabbi Zachariah was opposed to this measure and the Gemorrah concludes the story: because of Rabbi Zachariah, the Temple was destroyed, the Heichal was burnt, and we were exiled from our land.
Rav David Cohen explains that Bar Kamtza, the treasonous Jewish informant, indeed played a central role in the events that caused the Temple’s destruction, however the Talmud does not focus on him or the host who insulted him, as we have always been taught. We have always been led to believe that over the small mistake in the confusion of the names Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, and over the harsh insult to evil Bar-Kamtza, the Temple was Destroyed. We are urged to accept the erroneous moral of this story, that we must show compassion for evil people such as Bar Kamtza the informant, and we must never insult even an evil Jew. While there are sources for this interpretation, Rashi and the Meiri clearly place the blame on Rabbi Zacharia for hesitating to kill Bar-Kamtza, and Rashi’s view clearly fits well within the text.

The common interpretation of the story contradicts the actual conclusion brought both in the Babylonian Talmud and the Midrash, which transfers the blame from Bar Kamtza the informant and the host who embarrassed him to Rav Zachariah ben Ifkulas! “Rabbi Yosef says: the humility of Zacharia ben Ifkulas burnt the sanctuary.” Rashi explains: “Humility – that he tolerated this and did not kill [Bar Kamtza].” This is also the conclusion of Meiri: “You learn from here that it is permissible to kill one who incites the government against the people.”

Thus, the Temple was destroyed due to the fact that the Jews were hesitant to kill an evil informant. It was this lack of bloodshed that brought about the destruction. Quite different, indeed, from the false interpertation of the Gemorrah that we were raised upon.

It is more than ironic that the common interpretation of the Talmudic story stands diametrically opposed to the basic reading of the text, and the basic explanation given by Rashi and the Meiri. We are urged to display hospitality and break bread with the Evil, in spite of the fact that the Rishonim learned the exact opposite lesson from the story, and concluded that it was tolerance of the evil Bar Kamtza and hesitation to kill him that triggered the destruction of the Temple.

23 July 2012

"...on the eve of the great war...."

5 Menachem Av 5772

"Am Yisrael, I ask you, I beg of you, now, on the eve of the great war, return to the truth!"

Mortar shell from Syria lands near Israeli border

IDF: Syrian chemical threat targets Israel. UN Secretary "very worried"

Will it be hours? days? still weeks? There is no time to waste.

World War 3
Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5772

World War 3 - they’re talking about it everywhere today. In all the newspapers, headlines are blaring: “War, War,” and with all this, we, the Jews, still continue life as usual. The seculars continue with their tiyulim even though the economic situation is difficult, and the chareidim continue with their wars. Every day fighting against each other, and recently even in a very violent way. What more can I say?

I sit and I think about it. I think about Jews with peyote and beards, who lay tefillin every day, and pray three times a day, usually; who keep mitzvot, more or less, and raise families of many children. On one hand, they sacrifice much for their Yiddishkeit, very much. On the other hand, they run after the golden calf. [I Kings 18:21 – “Until when are you hopping between two ideas?”]

What is the difference between us and the generation before the destruction of the First Temple? What is the difference between us and the generation before the destruction of the Second Temple that had within them talmidei chachamim and they learned much Torah? [See reference original.]

In the First Temple, the sins were clear, because it was bloodshed, incest and idolatry. In the Second Temple, it was different, because they learned Torah and kept mitzvot and overall, on the surface, the majority was righteous. But, it did not prevent the destruction of the Temple. And also, with us, we see that we learn and learn; there are supposedly ‘righteous,’ tzadikim who learn day and night, who don’t work, only learn; their women work so their husbands can learn. And with all this, we also have the disadvantages and the sins of the two generations who were before the destruction of the Temples.

And we, also, are standing before a great disaster. But, it’s a disaster not only for us, but for the whole world. It’s correct that we don’t need to pay attention to newspapers, but when all the newspapers in the world are shouting ‘War!’ shouting ‘End of the World!’ shouting ‘World War Three!’ then, as is seen, this is also a message from Heaven. [Joel 2:11: “And the Lord gave forth His voice before His army, for His camp is great, for he who performs His word is mighty, for the day of the Lord is great and very awesome…”]

And the chareidi Jews, the so-called ‘tzadikim,’ will tell us that it is forbidden to hear the radio or read a newspaper, but for many of these Jews, there is a close connection davka with all these things, and they have no problem with it, and only when there is in the news things that they don’t want to hear, then they remember that it is forbidden to hear.

And they think: “Ha, nonsense! It’s forbidden for me to hear… Who wants war now!? Because every one knows that war now will destroy very much of the world, and will kill a large part of the population of the world. No one wants this. So, it’s preferable simply to decide that this is a goyische thing, not pertaining to us, it’s purposeless…the world continues as usual and Hashem will protect us.” I just want to remind you that this was the same attitude as before the destruction of the First Temple, and also before the destruction of the Second Temple, and also before the European Holocaust. [Jeremiah 7:4 – “Do not rely on false words, saying: The Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord are they.” For the whole matter, see verses 2-15]

But, yes, it will befall us and it’s even written in the prophets [Joel 2, Zephaniah 3, Zechariah 13 and many others]. And I know that then will begin the various interpretations about what, in truth, was said in the prophecies. And I will tell you that truthfully there will be war. Huge - really. And like it stands today, few Jews will survive. And in the world, also yes, few people, relatively, will come out of it alive.

You need to understand, and this is a fact, that not every Jew has a Jewish soul. A majority of Jews, according to very many sources from the righteous of previous generations, are from the Erev Rav [ See sources in sheet volume 73] and they will disappear from the world.

Who are the Erev Rav? They are Jews according to law. But, their soul is not the soul of a Jew. [See source in original.] How is it possible to know them? Whoever cools Jews off to Judaism. Cools and chills them [“That which happened to you on the way…” End of Ki-Tetze] They extinguish the fire that is inside every true Jew, the fire with which they do the mitzvot. And this makes Judaism into a Judaism without life, without a soul. [ Isaiah 29:13 – “…a command of people, which has been taught.”]. Because the Erev Rav cannot tolerate holiness. The Erev Rav cannot tolerate the close connection of a true Jew to HKB”H.

The Erev Rav, since they went out from Egypt, they only want to disturb the connection of Am Yisrael to the Master of the World. And in this generation, they are rejoicing, and so many Jews are falling into this thing, are falling into the will of the Erev Rav, that many of them are ‘thinking’ people, quote-unquote. [Jeremiah 50:6 – “My people were lost sheep, their shepherds caused them to stray, to the mountains they led them astray….”] That inside, deep within their plan, it is to strip the true Jew of his true Judaism. And the Erev Rav dress in chareidism, because he is the so-called ‘righteous Jew,’ and instead of directing to truth, he strips the Jew from the truth. [Lamentations 2:14 - “Your prophets have seen false and senseless visions for you, and they have not exposed your iniquity to straighten out your backsliding, but have prophesied for you false and misleading oracles.”] And the truth is – ‘ayn od milevado’ – there is nothing besides Him. In order to live in this war that in just a little bit will open, in order to survive, you need a close connection with HKB”H. [Tehillim 142: 6 – “I cried out to You, O Lord; I said, "You are my refuge, my lot in the land of the living."] Not with anyone else in the world. Because no one else will be able to direct us to this Every Jew needs to connect his own personal connection to HKB”H, and this connection will save him.

I sit and cry, cry and cry, when I see the Jews occupied with nonsense, with nonsense, with the golden calf. [Isaiah 2:8 – “And his land is full of idols; to the work of his hands he prostrates himself, to that which his fingers made.”] Yes, they pray, but it’s still far from Yiddishkeit, because the golden calf culture brings about a lack of holiness every place, results in a superficial performance of mitzvot in Am Yisrael, for chareidim, and this is the poison that separates us from the truth.

Am Yisrael, I ask you, I beg of you, now, on the eve of the great war, return to the truth! Return to holiness, take out from your lives all the things that pertain to This World, except for the things that you really need to exist. Pray truly to Hashem. Understand! We are all of us in very great danger, in danger of death, in danger of losing everything, in This World as well as the World-to-Come, G-d forbid. This is the time to sit, to pray crying, to search within ourselves - where has the golden calf entered in, where has the Erev Rav damaged us, and to take out the falsehood, and to return to the truth.

What else can I tell you, Am Yisrael? I don’t have any more words. The time is finished, the time is finished. Everyone knows it, also the gentiles and also the Jews need to know. The gentiles understand, but the Jews are thickheaded, they’ve clogged themselves up. They want until the end, until the last moment, to suck all the pleasures from This World. [Isaiah 22: 12 – “And the Lord God of Hosts called on that day, for weeping, and for lamenting and for baldness, and for girding with sackcloth. And behold, joy and happiness, slaying cattle and slaughtering sheep, eating meat and drinking wine; "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we will die."]

If Mashiach would reveal himself at this moment, he would come to help the residents of the most chareidi Judaism, so to speak, which is Meah Shearim, Geula, Rabbi Akiva St in Bnei Brak, and I fear that he would give a shout that would incinerate whatever was standing in these three places, and not a thing would remain, except for the truly righteous, who are very few. Because these are places that it’s impossible to think of as places of holiness. There is no holiness there. And the few that there are hardly see him, because these streets, in these areas, are full of violence, immorality, baseless hatred and lack of connection to HKB”H.

Am Yisrael, this is the end! I don’t have any more to tell. Start making an accounting before the end, a spiritual accounting. To sit, to go over your lives, to see where you have strayed from the path. To make repentance with tears and regret, to ask forgiveness from HKB”H, to promise and to fulfill, that from this moment we are returning to Him, also in dress, also in prayer, also in kindness, also in holiness and in everything that pertains to a real Jew who received the Torah at Mt. Sinai. [Joel 2:12 – “And even now, says the Lord, return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting and with weeping and with lamentation. And rend your hearts and not your garments, and return to the Lord your God,….”] or disappear from reality, lo aleynu. [See sheet volume 37, headline ‘Master Plan to Save Us’]

The Torah, today, is wearing sackcloth and ashes, because for the majority, they don’t learn for the sake of Heaven. The Torah is dressed in sackcloth and ashes, because the laws (halachot), that came straight from Heaven to the Jews, they are already distorted. The Jews twist them, and the judges rule according to the golden calf, according to the will of the community. [The face of the generation, etc, …] It’s hard to believe how it’s possible to give a hechsher to a fashion wig when the Torah says “hair on a woman is nakedness.” How is it possible to give a hechsher to chickens when the shochet needs to shecht hundreds of chickens in an hour, and no telling how many unkosher ones chareidi Am Yisrael eats. Because when the matter of hechsherim will be a business with huge profits, then there will always be big question marks as to the extent that the supervision can be truly according to the law. It’s difficult to believe, how Jewish women can walk in the street with immodest, short and narrow dress, if the Torah says, “a small amount on a woman is nakedness.” It’s hard to believe, how Jews don’t keep family purity as necessary. How Jews, so-called ‘tzadikim,’ quote-unquote, know to use words and strong-arm [tactics] against women and girls who want to return to the modest dress of Sarah Imeinu, a”h.

The Torah is dressed in sackcloth and ashes, because Am Yisrael is distanced from her. Supposedly, they are ‘close,’ but they are very far from the truth. The Holy Torah is dressed in sackcloth and ashes because she sees that Hashem will not allow this to continue. For many years Hashem has tried to return His people, and it didn’t help. [Jeremiah 7:25 – “Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt until this day, I sent you all My servants the prophets, sending them day [after day] with every fresh morn. Yet they hearkened not to Me nor did they incline their ear, but stiffened their necks;…”] So, therefore, a huge part of the goyim, and the Jews who have souls of the Erev Rav, will disappear from the world. And the true Jews will receive our righteous Mashiach.

The Torah is dressed in sackcloth and ashes and cries. If we would dress in sackcloth and ashes, sit and cry, together with the Torah, together with the Shekhina, with a broken heart, and be sorry about the distancing, the distancing that we allowed the Erev Rav to distance us from the Torah, from HKB”H, and we would be sorry for it, there would be hope that the future will pass more easily. But since a few people do this, and baruch Hashem, there are people that are doing this, but since they are few, so the hope that we will pass through it easily – is also very small.

I have nothing more to say. The end is getting close - the end before the new world. [“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth,…” - Isaiah 65:17] If a person stubbornly holds to falsehood and screams that the lie is truth, that the lie is Torah, then he will not be able to live in the new world which is all truth.

"Bird's Eye View of Jerusalem"

4 Menachem Av 5772

I came across this page in a search for something else and found it just beautiful. I hope you do, too. I like to think that the Arabs' paving over Har Habayit is preparation for the Third Beit Hamikdash!

Photographer Israel Bardugo presents aerial photos of the Har Habayis, the Kotel, Har Hazeisim, East Jerusalem and more.

20 July 2012


(Also see the picture-associated link.)

1 Menachem Av 5772
Rosh Chodesh

From Rav Yitzchak Ginsberg of Gal Einai:

The Hebrew month of Av (or Menachem-Av, the consoler of Av) is the fifth of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar.

The name Av literally means "father." It derives from the root which means "to will" or "to desire."

It is the month of the "low point" of the Jewish calendar (the 9th of Av, the day of the sin of the spies and the destruction of both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem) as well as the month of the "high point" of the Jewish calender (the 15th of Av--"there are no happier days for Israel than the 15th of Av and Yom HaKippurim" (Mishnah Ta'anit 26:)--the day of finding one's predestined soul-mate).

This accords with the teaching of our sages that "the Mashiach is born on the 9th of Av." Relative to all other souls of Israel, the soul of Mashiach, who comes to redeem Israel from her state of (spiritual as well as physical) exile, is like a groom to his bride. After his birth on the 9th of Av he reveals himself to his bride and betroths her on the 15th of Av.

Letter: Tet
The letter tet, which resembles a womb, equals 9, corresponding to the 9 months of pregnancy. In the month of Av the 9 months are condensed and concentrated into 9 days, from Rosh Chodesh Av (the yahrtzeit of Aaron the high priest, whose name comes from the word "pregnant") to the 9th of Av, the day, which as mentioned above is the birthday of Mashiach.

Zodiac Sign (mazal): Leo - Aryeh
The aryeh symbolizes the superrational power of Divine will (the meaning of the name Av, as mentioned above). The initial manifestation of G-d's will to destroy (the Temple) was in truth purely for the sake of reconstructing (the Temple with all of its spiritual meaning and significance for Israel and the entire world) for eternity.

In the words of our sages (Yalkut Shimoni, Yermiyahu, 259 ): "The lion [Nevudchanetzar, who is referred to in the Bible as a lion--Yermiyahu 4:7] came on the month of the lion [Av] and destroyed the lion [the Temple, which is referred to in the Bible, especially with regard to the alter, as a lion], in order that the lion [G-d, of Whom is said 'the lion roars, who shall not fear'--Amos 3:8] come on the month of the lion and rebuild the lion."

This secret is also reflected in the numerical value of aryeh. Aryeh in gematria = 216 = gevurah ("might"). Gevurah is the Divine power responsible for tzimtzum (contraction and diminution of Divine light and energy, as is said with regard to the beginning of Av: "When Av enters we diminish in joy" [Mishnah Ta'anit 26:]) and destruction. But 216 = 3 ? 72. 72 = chesed ("lovingkindness"), the Divine power which "builds" all of reality, as is said (Psalms 89:3): "the world is built with [by the power of] chesed." Three times chesed corresponds to the building of all three Temples, who are all contained and find their eternal consummation in the third Temple, to be built speedily in our days by Mashiach. For this reason the aryeh appears to the right, in the place of chesed, in the Divine Chariot (Ezekiel 1:10).

Tribe of Israel: Shimon
The name Shimon comes from the word "to hear." The sin of the spies on the 9th of Av entailed their speaking evil of the land of Israel and the people's accepting--"hearing"--the evil tongue. Thus the general rectification of the month of Av is the rectification of hearing.

Shimon is the only tribe that Moses did not explicitly bless at the end of the Torah. This was due to his "frustration" with the tribe of Shimon because of their involvement (more than all the other tribes) in the sin of Pe'or (prostitution with foreign women, which resulted in idolatry). The name Shimon divides into two words which spell sham avon, "there is iniquity."

In a certain sense, Moses (from the tribe of Levi) was most closely related (in spirit) to Shimon than to any other tribe. "Shimon and Levi are brothers" (Genesis 49:5) said our father Jacob in blessing his sons. The two together (Shimon leading his younger brother Levi) took revenge for the rape of their sister Dinah, and destroyed the entire city of Shechem.

In Kabbalah we are taught that the primary reincarnation of Moses is in Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, he who more than any other of the sages revealed the inner dimension of the Torah of Moses (in the Holy Zohar).

The "degeneration" of the power of Shimon leads to the destruction of the Temple. The rectification and elevation of that very power brings about the eternal reconstruction of the Temple.

The rectification of Shimon (the rectification of the sins and iniquities of Israel which brought to the destruction of the Temple in the month of Av, the month of Shimon) is by his clinging to the most essential attribute of Moses--humility. The word avon ("sin") permutes to spell anav ("humble") the unique term by which the Torah praises Moses (Numbers 12:3): "And the man Moses was very humble [anav], more than any other man on the face of the earth." The name Shimon transforms (in the month of Av) from "there is iniquity" (sham avon) to "there is the humble one" (sham anav).

The ability of Shimon to so "metamorphasize" depends upon his inner sense of hearing. Moses addresses Israel with the most all-inclusive statement of the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4) : "Hear [shemah] O' Israel...." Moses speaks to Israel through the soul-root of Shimon. Inner hearing (derher in Yiddish) comes with the deep sense of humility in the soul.

Even though Moses did not explicitly bless Shimon, our sages teach us that he alluded to him in the first word of his blessing to Judah (Deuteronomy 33:7): "Hear [shemah] G-d the voice of Judah...." (This phrase complements the verse "Hear O' Israel..."; in gematria, "Hear G-d the voice of Judah" = 602 = 7 ? 86 [Elokim, G-d], "Hear O' Israel..." = 1118 = 13 ? 86).

In the division of the land of Israel to the twelve tribes, Shimon inherited his portion within the larger portion of Judah (this is the only instance that one tribe inherited its portion within another). When the two names Shimon and Judah are added together: 466 plus 30 = 496 = malchut ("kingdom") Thus we learn that the malchut of Judah depends upon the "presence" and "partnership" of Shimon.

Judah corresponds to the month of Nissan and the sense of speech. Shimon corresponds to the month of Av (the first two letters and "sub-root" in Hebrew of the word aviv, the name in Torah for the month of Nissan) and the sense of hearing. Av is the 5th month from Nissan, whose letter is hei = 5.

The two senses of speaking and hearing are obviously a pair, just as in the sin of the people's hearing (accepting) the "evil tongue" spoken by the spies, the sin of the 9th of Av.

Thus we conclude that the power of the month of Av (the month of [apparent] destruction) is to "hear" the message "spoken" by the month of Nissan (the month of redemption), and integrate the first and foremost power of Israel?leadership?into the consciousness of the Jewish people.

This is the secret of the "pregnancy" and "birth" of Mashiach (the quintessential leader of Israel) from the 1st of Av (the beginning of his 9 day pregnancy) to the 9th of Av (his birth). He then fully unites with the consciousness of the people, "in matrimony," on the 15th of Av.

19 July 2012

Where'd He Go?

29 Tamuz 5772
Erev Rosh Chodesh

In the closing hours of the month of Tamuz, shortly before the arrival of Rosh Chodesh Av, Bashar Assad is reported "missing" and the IDF is on "high alert."

IDF on High Alert as Syria's Assad Goes Missing
With the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad teetering on the brink of collapse, Israel's security officials are looking north.

The IDF raised its alert level and canceled weekend leaves on Thursday as the situation in Syria continues to destabilize.


Meanwhile, ParObama has spoken and there will be no "response" to yesterday's spilling of Jewish blood. Along with this announcement comes a warning that we can expect more of the same.

Anti-Israel attacks to mount in sync with Syrian war, looming strike on Iran

...The US and Israeli leaders agreed to work together in the investigation of the bus explosion in Bulgaria.

Our sources stress that this is just diplomaticspeak for holding off on action. Despite Netanyahu’s pledge of a “strong response” to the attack, it was decided that a proactive response to the attack by striking an Iranian or Hizballah target would exacerbate a situation which US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta described as “spinning out of control.”

Israelis have learned in the three years of Netanyahu's tenure as prime minister that expressions like “strong,” “forceful,” “determined” “we cannot tolerate” etc. mean just the opposite. Israel’s enemies also understand him to mean that he will sit tight and do nothing.

However, an escalation of attacks on Israeli “strategic targets” predicted by intelligence experts in the coming days may make this do-nothing policy untenable. After all, talking to Obama won’t deflect Iran, Syria and Hizballah from their resolve to vent their urge for revenge on Israel

Catch the Beams!

29 Tamuz 5772
Erev Rosh Chodesh

If you missed
Lazer Beams today, be sure to go back and read The Nine Days and Licking our Wounds. Great article!

Here is an excerpt:

"...Do not take the passing of Rav Elyashiv zatza"l lightly; on the same day - yesterday - tragedy struck the Jewish people in the form of the terror attack in Bulgaria. Not only that, but with the Syrian mega-hit in Damascus yesterday, the final nail has been put in the coffin of Syrian stability. We now have highly volatile, instable borders with Egypt, Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria. Tensions are very high, and a match could set off an explosion between Israel and Hizbolla/Iran."

Shabbat Tisha b'Av 5772

29 Tamuz 5772
Erev Rosh Chodesh

You might be thinking that I've become obsessed with the 2012 London Olympics, but it's not true. I'm just fascinated by the confluence of events and the potential ramifications.

London braces for Israeli strike on Iran during 2012 Games
Olympic planning committee fears a military showdown during the largest sporting event in the world

Taking into account the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran during the 2012 Summer Games, the Olympic committee in charge of the London event has formed a special team to prepare for the contingency.

According to the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth on Wednesday., the team — consisting of politicians, diplomats, security officials and organizing committee personnel — wrote in a report that such a strike was entirely possible.

...England is thought to be within the range of Iranian missiles and UK officials believe that a military confrontation between Jerusalem and Tehran could involve the country against its will.

Who's Going to the Olympics?

29 Tamuz 5772
Erev Rosh Chodesh

We already know that the Queen will be in attendance, so who else is going?

Medvedev to Attend London Opening Ceremony - Official

...Britain’s Foreign Office has said some 120 heads of state will attend the opening ceremony, making it the biggest ever top-level international gathering


...first lady Michelle Obama will lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympic opening ceremony. There has been no word of President Barack Obama attending the games,.... (Source)


not going?

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Why I won't be going to the London Olympics

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has said he would like to come to the London Olympics but will not be attending because Britain has "a problem" with him.

His decision to stay away highlights a dilemma for the British government, which faces an unprecedented influx of leaders from unsavoury regimes for the opening ceremony on 27 July.

Does he know something the rest of them don't? If you find any other names of heads of state attending the Opening Ceremony, please add their names in the comments section.

18 July 2012

Too Much News to Keep Up With

29 Tamuz 5772
Erev Rosh Chodesh

I just have to say that we have halachah about not traveling for pleasure during the three weeks for a very good reason. And there is halachah about when it is allowed to travel outside of Eretz Yisrael for a very good reason.

7 dead in bombing of Israeli bus in Burgas
32 injured after attack on Israeli tour bus at the Burgas Airport in Bulgaria on 18th anniversary of Iran-sponsored bombing of Jewish center in Argentina

WAR DRUMS: Israel blames Iran for Bulgaria attack...

Netanyahu Vows 'Forceful Response to Iranian Terror

Shin Bet Orders Flights to E. Europe Delayed

US 'Won't Allow' Iran to Close Strait of Hormuz

US secretary of defense Leon Panetta has issued a stark warning to Tehran as tensions rise in the Persian Gulf.


Levaya of Maran Posek HaDor ZT”L Underway

...the levaya gets underway, preparing to begin the journey to the beis hachaim in Givat Shaul, emergency medical personnel have already treated dozens of people. One can hear shouts for “Hatzolah” from balconies and in the crowd as there is barely space for movement on this exceptionally hot Jerusalem night. Police fear that chas v’sholom some of the balconies of the old buildings may give way as they are all severely overcrowded as is any and all areas providing a view of the levaya.

...A fence of some type collapsed atop people attending the levaya. There is a considerable amount of screaming as EMS personnel are trying to get to the area to determine the extent of injuries, which according to preliminary reports are all light. This is among the serious concerns of police, who are all too well aware of the old buildings and balconies that are simply not designed for the weight and the amount of people.

There are also many cases of people passing out, apparently a combination of the heat and emotions.

An earlier report said:

The police presence is visible everywhere, including the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway as hundreds of buses are traveling to the capital for the levaya of Maran Posek HaDor HaGaon HaRav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv ZT”L ,....

There is really no where for anyone who plans to attend the levaya in Meah Shearim to go. The streets are filled to capacity and needless to say the crowd swells far beyond the borders of Geula and Meah Shearim. Nevi’im, Slonim and all areas streets are simply packed with people wishing to be melave the meis of the gadol hador ZT”L.

Bus transportation in Jerusalem has been seriously disrupted to accommodate the levaya and residents are wise to distance themselves from any areas along the levaya route as well as the entrance to the capital from Highway 1 as the endless stream of buses continues entering the city.

...Announcements can be heard at this time urging residents not to lean on the guardrails of balconies, which are not designed for the weight and amount of people seen on balconies and rooftops in every direction.

NOTE:The high in Jerusalem today was 104 F / 40 C. That is the hottest day I have experienced in my 16 years here.

17 July 2012

The Plight of Damascus

27 Tamuz 5772

Yeshayahu 17:1 - "The harsh prophecy concerning Damascus; Behold Damascus shall be removed from being a city, and it shall be depth of ruins."

Rosh Chodesh Av is usually a time when our mourning increases, but if this really is the year of our redemption, perhaps this Rosh Chodesh could see the first actual turn around in that trend. Either that or we could find our mourning increased to levels not seen in sixty-five years, chas v'chalilah.

'Fresh clashes rock Damascus'

Shooting was reported in Baghdad Street, one of the city's main thoroughfares.

There were also reports of tanks in the south-western suburb of Midan, and clashes involving helicopters in the north and north-east of the city.

Violence is continuing to spread across Syria and in the capital Damascus....

Rebels are calling the operation, which appears to be a full-scale attack on the centre of government power, the "Damascus volcano".
...Witnesses say this is the biggest military deployment in Damascus since the 16-month uprising against the government of President Bashar al-Assad began.

South Damascus embattled. Syrian high command moves to fortified site
Bashar Assad has gathered in his military strength to defend his beleaguered capital, deploying armored forces to cut off central Damascus from the embattled southern districts of Meidan and Tadmon seized by the rebels Monday, July 16. A quarter of Damascus’s 1.8 million inhabitants live in those districts. debkafile’s military sources report they are now surrounded by six strengthened Allawite Shabiha militia battalions and under heavy fire.

Assad and his commanders have turned to a different tactic for defending Damascus: They allowed the rebels to occupy the southern districts with the intention of trapping them there and destroying them.

Our sources expect the ongoing heavy bombardment of the rebel concentrations there to result in a bloodbath on the horrific scale of the Bab al Amr massacre in Homs last February and March. The Syrian general staff has prepared for the last battle for Damascus by relocating its command headquarters to a well-fortified complex on Shuhada Street in the capital’s center, known as the “summer command” and normally housing the supply division.

If Damascus falls, Israel and its gas fields feared threatened
Syrian military forces were gathered in Tuesday, July 17, to save Damascus.

Tanks and armored vehicles were positioned in strength in the capital’s center and around government buildings. However, the noise and fury of battle in the Syrian capital Tuesday, July 17, were produced, debkafile’s military sources report, by six battalions of Bashar Assad’s loyal Allawite militia in clashes with the rebels who captured the two southern suburbs of Meidan and Tadmon Monday. They are trying to pound the enemy into extinction before its forces reach central Damascus.

The two beleaguered districts are home to a quarter of the capital’s 1.8 million inhabitants.

The Syrian general staff has withdrawn its command headquarters to a well-fortified complex on Shuhada Street in the capital’s center.

If Damascus falls and Assad is cornered, the entire region stands in peril of wider repercussions, because neither he nor Tehran will take defeat lying down.

debkafile’s military sources report their campaign will be paced and scaled according to the momentum of the Syrian rebels’ advance on Bashar Assad’s door-step, which could be drawn out and bloody.

On the Iranian-Hizballah list are Middle East oil installations as well as Israeli, US, Turkish, Saudi and Jordanian strategic targets.

Saturday, the Cypriot police captured a Hizballah terrorist before he could blow up an Israeli El Al flight and tourist buses in Limassol.

Tehran is feared to be focusing on the Mediterranean island as part of a plot to set Israel’s Mediterranean gas field Tamar on fire. The field is 80 kilometers west of Haifa

It would be a spectacular curtain-raiser for the closure of the Strait of Hormuz and for strikes against Gulf oil installations.

Navy Commander, Maj. Gen. Ram Rothberg called last week for an extra five warships and submarines to safeguard Israel’s burgeoning gas fields at the cost of a billion dollars.

The Syrian ruler has stoked up the menace by moving out of storage missiles and shells armed with mustard gas, sarin nerve gas and cyanide stockpiled for years.

They are on operational readiness at Homs, Latakia and Aleppo and, according to Nawaf Fares,

Syrian ex-ambassador to Iraq who defected to the opposition, may already have been used against rebel concentrations.

The longer the battle for Damascus goes on, the greater the danger that the Syrian ruler will release his poison-tipped missiles against Israel, Turkey and Jordan.

12 July 2012

More bad news for America's Jews...

22 Tamuz 5772

What a time for this to come out. But, would there ever be a good time for news like this? Jewish, Orthodox, Israeli. Three strikes and you're out Levy Yitzchak! Oh, the BBC just loves stuff like this.

Israeli jailed for illegal US kidney transplants
Levy Izhak Rosenbaum admitted brokering kidney transplants for profit, becoming the first person convicted over illegal organ sales in the US, prosecutors say.

He was alleged to have charged between $120,000 (£77,400) and $160,000 to arrange kidneys for three people.

He was caught trying to arrange fourth operation when the FBI launched a sting operation in 2009.

New Jersey prosecutors said Rosenbaum, an Israeli living in Brooklyn, used newspaper adverts in his homeland to find donors willing to give up a kidney in return for cash.

He was alleged to have paid as little as $10,000 to secure a donor organ.

He then helped set up blood test and services to ensure a proper match was arranged for those in need of a transplant in the US.
Read the rest here.

When it rains, it pours...

22 Tamuz 5772

And never more so than today. A few days ago it was reported that a month's worth of rain fell in one day in the UK. And two month's worth of rain fell in just a few hours in Russia!

Now today, 2 feet of rain in 8 hours is being reported in Japan! It's 2012!!

"Bein HaMetzarim"

22 Tamuz 5772

As explained in yesterday's post, Building Tension 3, as of 17 Tamuz, we have officially entered into a period known collectively as The Three Weeks (yes with caps). In Hebrew, it's called Bein HaMetzarim or "Between the Straits." A "strait" is a narrow place. You can see one in the picture above. It's called the Strait of Hormuz and from the map, you can tell that its name derives from the drastic narrowing of the water passage at this point.

All three of the "Building Tension" posts from yesterday reflect the cosmic energy of The Three Weeks, but guess what? Maybe, for the first time in two thousand years, it's the Western nations, aka Exile Edom, which are being forced into The Strait.

U.S. moving submersibles to Persian Gulf to oppose Iran

The Navy is rushing dozens of unmanned underwater craft to the Persian Gulf to help detect and destroy mines in a major military buildup aimed at preventing Iran from closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the event of a crisis, U.S. officials said.


22 Tamuz 5772

People have been used to doing a lot of underhanded things and not getting caught. But, the Light of Redemption is shining brighter every day and its energy is beginning to make this impossible any longer. Everything is being revealed. If you have any secrets, best bear this in mind.

The World of Truth is coming and it will completely sweep away the World of Lies.

A scandal over rate-fixing is about to hit the US

...The potential scope of the unfolding scandal, now acquiring global significance, is enormous. Other banks that have disclosed that they are under investigation for LIBOR manipulation include big U.S. banks,....

Economists and analysts predict the LIBOR scandal could be one of the most expensive to hit the banking sector since the financial crisis, engulfing more multinational banks with fines that dwarf the one handed to Barclays and further eroding investor confidence in the banking sector.

...Robert Shapiro, former Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs in the Clinton administration and now chairman of Sonecon, an economic advisory firm, warned Wednesday that the LIBOR scandal could become the largest financial fraud in history.

11 July 2012

Building Tension 3

21 Tamuz 5772

Now that we are into the Three Weeks which culminate at Tisha b'Av, a time period known as Bein HaMetzarim - "between the straits" - it makes sense that the tension will build. We are moving into a tighter and tighter space.

Tension continues to build between Israel and the United States...

US displeased with Levy Report (Read "mad as hell")
DC official says US 'does not accept legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts'

The American Administration vehemently disagrees with the findings of the Levy Report, which states that the Israeli government must promote the legitimization of all West Bank settlements and outposts.

..."Obviously, we've seen the reports that an Israeli Government appointed panel has recommended legalizing dozens of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts...We’re concerned about it, obviously."

Washington is likely to pressure Israel to refrain from implementing the report's recommendations – a situation that will categorically change the legal realities in the West Bank.

Report: Obama orders U.S. intelligence to increase surveillance of Israel

Western diplomatic sources said President Barack Obama has ordered intensified U.S. intelligence on Israel’s military and government.

They said Obama wanted to ensure that his administration could collect information that would indicate an Israeli plan to strike either Iran or Syria.

“The CIA is working very closely with the State Department and other agencies to monitor Israel on a daily basis,” a diplomatic source said.

“Obama has told his people that he does not want to be surprised.”

The sources said the U.S. surveillance included satellite images of Israeli military deployment as well as unusual movements near the northern border with Lebanon.

Building Tension 2

21 Tamuz 5772

(Hat tip Leah S)

Tension is building against the Jews in America. They are being set up. Slowly, slowly the heat is being increased and the pot is coming to a boil. The question is, how much longer until it boils over?

When Bernie Madoff "made off" with millions of his investors' dollars, he became a very high-profile Jew and for all the worst reasons. Marc Rich, who also got "rich" from financial misdealings, was another high-profile Jew. He received a controversial presidential pardon from outgoing President Bill Clinton in January of 2001, allegedly because his wife Denise (nee Eisenberg) made a very substantial "donation" to Clinton's Presidential Library. But that was before 9/11 and before the current financial crisis, so the pot only simmered. However, his name is back in the news today, a reminder of what was past, because Denise Rich, a very high-profile Jewess in her own right, has renounced her US citizenship in order to save millions in taxes.

Of course, there are plenty of high-profile non-Jews doing the same kinds of things, but it is the Jews who are remembered. And then, something like this comes along, which just adds fuel to the antisemitic fires...

Democratic Politician Claimed No Jews Died in 9/11